One thing many people can’t quite get their heads around is the Catholic Church’s claim that there is one Church founded by Jesus and that one this Church, according to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), “constituted and organized as a society in this present, world, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.” Or as Richard John Neuhaus liked to put it, “The Catholic Church is the Church of Jesus Christ most fully and rightly ordered through time.”
In the first installment of my advice as to how to avoid becoming a Catholic, I suggested two rules. First, assume that all Catholics are idiots. Second, get all your information about the Catholic Church second-hand. Steer clear of Catholic intellectuals, well-catechized laypeople, and young, zealous, orthodox priests and nuns. Look for leftover aging, hippy priests and nuns, poorly catechized Catholics, and ex-Catholics evangelicals who have it in for the Church. And above all, don’t read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
With those preliminaries out of the way, the next three rules have to do with history.
A little over a year ago my status changed. Having been a Presbyterian minister for over twenty years, I became a Catholic layman. How that happened is a long story.
In a nutshell, though, reading a Catholic author here, meeting with a priest or two there, befriending groups of faithful Catholics, and attending lectures, meetings, and (occasionally) Mass all added up. At the same time, my questions about the viability of Protestantism in a post-modern environment became more pointed and my answers more frightening. The Protestant mainline, oldline, sideline is in theological, moral, and cultural freefall as it approaches becoming little more than a sideshow. And the evangelicals, I believe, are not all that far behind.
Does God have one right choice for me in each decision I make?
When we pray for wisdom to discern God’s will when it comes to choosing a mate, a career, a job change, a move, a home, a school, a friend, a vacation, how to spend money, or any other choice, big or little, whenever there are two or more different paths opening up before us and we have to choose, does God always will one of those paths for us? If so, how do we discern it?
As this newsletter goes to print, we have nearly 750 non-Catholic clergy members who are still somewhere on the journey towards the Catholic Church. Most of these men and women are actively pastoring non-Catholic churches—of nearly a hundred different denominations. Some have grown discouraged and cold in their interest in the Catholic Church; many others are convinced and ready to “come home”, but are stalled in their journeys because they face seemingly insurmountable hurdles—vocational, occupational, financial, and sometimes marital.
How does one determine truth? This was the core of my own journey to the Church, and though I won’t repeat the details here, I must admit this journey, for
Recently I received a copy of the following important document issued by Cardinal William Levada, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). It describes the “Minimum Profile of Formation for Former Protestant Ministers Who Desire to Be Ordained Catholic Priests.”
I’m passing this along, especially for those of you who are clergy on the journey or converts contemplating the possibility of ordination as Catholic priests, but also for the rest of us who are praying for these highly gifted converts whom God is bringing home to the Church. If there are any questions or particular needs concerning this process, please do not hesitate to call us.
Through the years Christians have striven to draw closer to God through fasting and works of penance.
To provide reference information to those who have questions about these practices, the Coming Home Network International has compiled a list of Catholic resources.